By Tom Fairbrother
Here is how I got on...
For Run One I chose a 10 mile route, from my house in Melton to a place called Rendlesham and back -both in Suffolk.
Pretty flat on the whole, what hills there were very short and shallow. 99% of the route was on tarmac roads and concrete pavements.
Going by the recent so-called 'drought' it was a rare dry day and also quite mild. Perfect for causing a bit of a sweat and putting my energy levels to the test.
After taping the eggs to my chin and wrist, something I have to say is a first for me, I hit the road confident and optimistic as to what the run had in store for me.
I reached Rendlesham with no problems at all, running quite well at a decent pace (around 6:50 per mile) keeping my head still and level, eyes focused on the horizon and not at the ground whilst ensuring I did not get lazy, keeping my arms moving front to back and not my usual sailor side to side style.
It happened as I was reaching probably the largest hill on the route, as I began to climb I seemed to recall ducking my head slightly to try and drive myself up it, only to crush the egg with my chin.
Run 2 - 8 miles
With 10 miles the day previous and 12 to follow, I chose to run the 8 mile route second to break up the two longer runs.
Not pleasant conditions, but perfect for putting my technique to the test. Run 1 was dry. flat-ish roads, where as this would be slippery, hilly, almost cross-country trail like conditions
Already my mis-hap the day previous had had an effect as I found myself particularly focused and determined not to break anymore. Immediately therefore what could have just been a run just going through the motions had an objective and a purpose.
The headwind was by far the toughest of all three runs for the eggs on my wrists. It is easy when running into a strong wind to really drive your arms to keep your momentum going, especially on a longer run where the pace is likely to be slower.
As you can see by the photo above, in parts the route was also ridiculously slippery, so just trying to keep my balance put all three eggs at risk!
|Not so sunny Suffolk|
Overall I certainly felt as though I had to think less about keeping my head still. I don't want to say it was solely because of the egg incident the day before, but whereas I was very conscious of my arm movement, my head seemed to naturally stay very still keeping my shoulders low and loose despite the demanding conditions.
Progress, very small progress!
Eggs broken - 0/3
Run 3 - 12 miles
|Ominous signs early on|
Anyone who plays golf will now, the minute somebody alters your swing, whether it be your grip or posture, it feels awful and you just want to revert back to your old method.
However, if you can look at the bigger picture you will know it is a long term gain if you persevere. And the minute the new method begins to feel natural, you know you are on the right track.
It was again a wet day and incredibly windy. This route I chose was mainly road similar to Run One, but was far more undulating and was going to be really difficult to maintain my technique and concentration levels in the latter stages with so many hill climbs.
One of the toughest parts of all three runs was the downhill section of one of the hills after roughly 9 miles. Strangely I thought that it would be uphill where my technique might fall down as I hauled myself up it, but actually the most difficult to maintain my posture in particular was running down a steep hill.
As anybody who has snowboarded will know, the first time you go down the slope, your body's reaction is to back off and therefore you lean back. However all this does is make you go even faster and inevitably you fall over.
I found that as is often the case, my body naturally wanted to slow me down as I was picking up speed. This is normal as most runners will know, so nothing to be surprised about here.
But what I had never considered was how your technique and form quickly goes out of the window in doing so. By leaning back with my arms slightly out to the sides, it made me realise that this could be where I have lost time before in races, whilst also putting extra strain on my lower back landing with my weight on my heels. Certainly something on my next run I will look at.
Most importantly though, I got through this section with all eggs in tact! And the final 3 miles passed off fairly eventfully. Although my mind did start to wander onto my energy levels, I quickly refocused before any eggs could break.
Eggs broken - 0/3
Total Eggs broken 1/9
I guess this Test has to be deemed as a success with only one egg broken in 30 miles. Okay so eggs are not the most scientific of tools, but they are very cheap and as ridiculous as this may sound, they do make an effective training aid.
Anyway I'm no psychologist or Derren Brown but I think this is similar to me, as I think part of me wanted to break the egg just to see if I could, even though I knew what would happen. Doing this then gave my mind a negative memory to associate with the head movement and so even though I was focusing on my arms, subconsciously I was still able to keep my head level. Make sense? Didn't think so.
From now on, during long hard runs when I look like hitting the wall or if I begin to lose interest, just having these two things to concentrate my mind on; arms forwards & back not across, and keep my head level could be the difference between giving in and walking the last 500m or securing my new personal best by providing me with some motivation at a crucial stage.
And by most importantly, it made all three runs fun and actually really enjoyable, something I didn't think 12 miles in the rain with an egg taped to my face could be!
I honestly believe that this experiment has improved my technique and especially my awareness of it. However with my hometown's 10k race coming up on 20th May, the big test now will be if I slip back into my bad habits when I am eggless!